Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Judge's Choice Chili Cook-Off Winner!

Yes, I'm shamefully bragging. But it's my first food-related win ever and I'm excited! I work at a sweet advertising agency, and every Thursday during the summer we have a happy hour in the courtyard at 4pm. And to keep happy hour new and exciting (as if I needed any more of an excuse to drink wine and snack on gummy worms), each HH usually has a theme. This time it was a chili cook-off!

I wanted to make a chili full of flavor, meat, heat, and even more meat. My favorite chilis have always been more meaty than soupy, and more meaty than beany, so therefore I used about 7 lbs of a variety of meat in this chili.

[my itsy bitsy little counter space for cutting up all the veggies. thanks mama for the cute cupcake apron, and to Greg for the heavenly Calphalon knives!]

I don't have the exact recipe, and I sort of forgot because this was a couple weeks ago... Oops! But these are the ingredients to the best of my memory (which isn't great).

- Dry Spanish chorizo, probably 2 or 3 links. Cut 2 links into small cubes, and leave one to mash up in the pot.
- BACON. I used about 6 strips. Cook it till crisp then break it up into small pieces.
- 3 different kinds of beef. I don't really remember, but I picked cuts that were thick and had great marbling (while being on sale). Get around 6 lbs worth.

- Diced: red and yellow bell peppers, celery (4 or 5 stalks), onion (half a brown, half a white)
- Garlic, minced and sliced.
- Canned whole tomatoes, crush by hand
- Tomato sauce, I think, maybe half a can...
- Serrano peppers, 2 or 3, I think the day of the cook-off it wasn't spicy enough, so I added in a couple more.
- Jalapenos soaked in chipotle (Alton Brown taught me that one). don't add too much of the chipotle, it's very overpowering.

- Cumin
- Cayenne
- Lots of cracked pepper
- Garlic salt
- Onion powder
- Probably a cube of boullion
- A couple others, coriander/chili/etc, whatever was lying around the pantry pretty much.

- Great American white beans (I think that's what they are called... doesn't matter)
- chicken or beef stock

1. Generously season meat with salt, pep, cayenne, whatever. Sear all the meat with some of the garlic to lock in juices and flavor. Throw in the chorizo, mash up the uncubed one in the pot. Add in all the diced veggies. And toss in all the seasonings. Let it all cook together a little bit.

2. When veggies are getting a little soft, dump in the stock. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to get all those yummy burnt meat pieces. Add in the tomato stuff and half of the bacon and whatever else I forgot to metion so far. I put the other half of the bacon in before serving so that there's a nice crunch. Bring to a bubble, then pour into your crock pot and simmer it at least overnight. I served it with sharp cheddar cheese.

3. Serve to the masses. Notice how there are no soup puddles left standing? All that meat drunk it all up:

4. Claim the prize! This is a fellow Bruin and agency VP, Pete Imwalle. What did I win, you ask? 2 movie tickets, an extra large Angels t-shirt, an Angels baseball hat, and extra large orange Oxygen channel flip flops. Angels stuff was given away since I am 110% a San Francisco GIANTS fan. But most importantly, I won the coveted pride-and-glory bragging rights.

Now I'm hungry again... What's funny is that the day of the cook-off, my mouth was so burnt from the test pot I made the 2 days before, that I couldn't even eat my chili! But thankfully I had lots of hungry coworkers and my roommate Steph to help me make sure the pot was cookoff-ready before sending it out. =)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting back to my roots

I visited my family and hometown over the weekend, and so of course, as it always is, I gained about 5.8 lbs from the sheer amount of delicious home cooking that I can never refuse - both because I'm Filipino and it's a SIN to deny food from your elders, and because it's just that damn amazing. Also, whenever my grandma knows I'm coming home for the weekend, she texts me the week before asking me what I want to eat! She is pretty amazing (plus she knows how to text!) and I owe that foodie part of me to her.

Grandma Upeng, and toffee crunch cake:

I love going back home, especially for holidays. My mom's whole family lives in the Bay Area, her parents, 4 brothers and sisters, and all the nieces and nephews (except for me obvi, and my brother and cousin that are in college). And we always get together to celebrate every birthday, every new American citizen induction, every major holiday, and even some of the smaller ones. Any excuse to eat great grub, watch the Giant's game, and pick on the little kids - we're there, together.

The emotional connection I have between my family and food is probably why I am so obsessed with food. If I'm having a great day, I crave food to further enhance that feeling. If I'm having a nervous breakdown, I need food to make me feel better. Here is some photographic evidence of some of the food I've grown up with along with some new favorites:

Grandma's paella. For some reason, probably because Tagalog doesn't have the double-L of the Spanish language, our family pronounces it Pah-ail-ya. Whenever I say it like that, pretentious people tell me I'm saying it wrong, but they're just so closed minded.

Every Christmas morning, my grandma serves popovers hot out of the oven along with her homemade strawberry butter. She knows I love them so much that she made a special non-Christmas day batch last weekend!
My Caca Tony's pulled pork. I call him caca not because he smells like poop, but because when I was little I would say "caca" instead of "uncle"! He is also an amazing cook and grill master. His specialties include deep frying a whole turkey (our Thanksgiving turkey has been deep fried for the past decade!), and any slab of meat that you can throw on a grill.

My grandma's famous crab. People fly over from the Philippines and the first thing they want is this crab. No thank you Crustacean of Beverly Hills, step aside $50/lb bills. This is the real deal, crab fat and all.

My mom is less of a chef and more of a food artist. This japanese amuse-bouche includes uni, toro, and tobiko.

Next up for One Potbelly: I'm entering my company's chili cook-off tomorrow! Recipe, pictures, and results to come!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oops, my bad.

I totally forgot about you. Ok, not you specifically, the blog. I forgot about taking pictures (or making my photographer boyfriend take pictures), I forgot about taking the time to write a semi-entertaining post, I forgot about taking this dream I had to be world famous... blogger... to a whole new level. Well, now that I put it that way, I really was trying to be less selfish because I would have had to take a whole bunch of different things. But I'm ready now to put myself first. =)

It's been 6 months, 1 week, and 4 days since my last post. And it's not like I've been sitting around waiting for my butter to come to room temperature that entire time. Honestly, do you think I'm that much of a loser? ... Don't answer that. But this is what I've been up to:

1. I went to the Philippines! And Japan! For 3 weeks! Did I use enough exclamation points yet to tell you that I loved it?!!?!?! Highlights: the gorgeous pristine Philippine islands, my lovely family that I don't get to see nearly as often as I would like, the serenity of Japan, the kazillions of beyond adorable Japanese trinkets, my first (and 10th) Pierre Herme French macaron (!!), the freshest most amazing seafood and sushi, the multiple suckling pigs that gave their lives to the heavenly dish of baby lechon, the $5 manicures, the $15 full body massages, TOCINO the foie gras of breakfast food, uni and tako 5 minutes out of the ocean. Oh lawdy what the heck am I still doing in America?

Palawan Islands, Philippines

Embracing my inner-Asian, Tokyo, Japan

Catching crabs in the Philippines (Ok, fine, the local dudes actually caught it)

2. I took my first French dessert class. I now know how to make financiers, the most delectable sea salt caramel french macarons, and some other stuff that I don't bother remembering because why make those inferior desserts when I can make sea salt caramel French macarons? Who's with me??

3. I moved apartments! Exactly 5 blocks northeast-ish of my former apartment. It. Is. Amazing. You know you love your apartment when you battle through LA numbnut drivers to eat lunch on your lovely balcony. My roommies are great (check out Steph's blog - honestly a lifesaver because I don't know anything about hair or makeup), walking distance to amazing Thai food, a dollar store, and a trendy bar, a smooth bike ride down to Venice Beach, how much more can you ask for in LA? I have a lovely room with tons of storage, a private balcony that gets just the perfect amount of sunshine, parking, and my own bathroom (first time ever in my life!) This is a picture of my lovely bed. Thanks to my interior designer mama for decorating and the financial backing! Also thank you to Mr. Ross, Targé, and Craig Slist for their amazingly affordable furniture finds!

What's your favorite getaway spot? Where's the best place you've lived? What's your favorite French dessert/pastry?? This post is far too long now. More food related commentary to come!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Exciting Saturday Night!

In my early twenties
on a Saturday night
bars within walking distance

and I'm waiting for my butter to become room temperature so I can bake cookies.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bananas for O B A M A !

The day McCain idiotically selected Sarah Palin as his vice president, B and I swore that if they won the election, we would flee this failing nation. To where, you say? London, Paris, the Philippines, Costa Rica. Pretty much anywhere but here. But luckily some of those foolish red states from '04 finally got some sense knocked into them (thanks, Florida!) and OBAMA is now our President Elect!!!!!! It seems everyone has got the hots for Obama, whose name seems to be the definition of when hope meets change, including this amazingly patriotic "Yes We Can" sale at a store on Main Street in Santa Monica.

I, of course, expressed my love for the man through the oven with my "Bananas for Obama" cupcakes. The blue cupcakes have cream cheese frosting while the red cupcakes have vanilla frosting. Instead of just giving you the recipe in boring terms like "Mix this" and "Beat that", I added in some extra entertainment. Just for you. It's ok, really, it's no big deal.

"Bananas for Obama" Cupcake Recipe:
1 2/3 cup flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking poder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1 stick softened, unsalted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line your cupcake pan. One batch makes about 50 mini cupcakes, probably about 20 regular-sized cupcakes.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Mash buttermilk and banananers together. I know it's difficult to be aggressive when Obama just won, but just think about how Prop 8 passed. Your blood should be boiling by now.
4. Beat butter and sugar together for a couple minutes until light and fluffy, which is about the texture of Sarah Palin's sad excuse for a brain.
5. Add one egg at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well after each egg.
6. On low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat til everything is just combined. Do the same with 1/2 of the banana mash. Then with another 1/3 of the flour. Then the rest of the banana. Then the rest of the flour. I know, it seems time consuming and useless, but it will keep your cupcakes from getting too tough. But if you really don't want to, I can't make you.
7. Fill up your cupcake pans with your preferred method. I like the "two-spoon" method. Those with OCD can fill up a plastic bag with the batter, snip off a corner, and pipe the batter into each cup. Whatever you do, make sure all the cups have about the same amount of batter. I like to fill them about 3/4 full.
8. The most important thing to remember is to not overbake them! They should be a light golden brown and when you push on one with your finger, it gives a little bit then spring back into the desired dome position. Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes, until they pass the toothpick test*.
9. Take the cupcakes out of the hot metal and cool them on a cooling rack. Don't attempt to frost them until they are cool, or else you'll jump the gun like Dubya and it will be a sloppy mess.
10. Use food coloring to dye half your frosting blue and half red, and arrange your cupcakes into your favorite Obama pattern or American flag or Palin blouse.

*If you don't know the toothpick test, please ask your mother.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Best fanny pack ever

Part of a Halloween costume. I tried to buy it off him, but as he firmly stated, "It's priceless."

Friday, October 31, 2008

I love Bacon, but...

I <3 bacon more than Joe the Plumber does, but this might be going a tad bit toooo far. Perhaps those with an affinity for a greasy, salty bosom would disagree with me. I have nothing left to say about this.

Well, maybe a little bit. But take a look at that craftsmanship, the perfectly placed toothpicks, it's impeccable. And it's just the right amount of bacon. Tim Gunn would approve this backless piece of lingerie, without his trademark critique "That's a whole lotta look". [via Flickr]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Move aside Anthony Bourdain

LinkI'm done waiting for you, Anthony Bourdain. That hard-to-get game just isn't working on me. Your charm, your sexy ruggedness, your screw-the-world attitude... it's not cutting it anymore. It's not me, it's you. All you do is talk talk talk and eat strange foods and try to make me jealous on 'No Reservations'. I can't deal with you traveling all the time, leaving me by my lonesome self.

So I found someone new. Someone who didn't recently kick a drug habit. Someone who whispers French sweet nothings in my ear at night. Someone who shares his talent with me. I know he's your buddy, but that's how it goes sometimes.

Oh, Eric Ripert, how I swoon over your always perfect hair and handsome blog. Your 'Get Toasted' videos always leave my passion for you even toastier than before. Your recipes highlight simple ingredients with refreshing flavors that I can make even while you distract me with your sultry accent.

Goodbye, Tony, I need you no more.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New York bagels, Clowns, and Yarmulke (Yamakas)?

Last April I was in glorious New York for my first time. And in the spirit of New York, of course I had to have a bagel. While the bagel did not impress me and was nothing more than what Noah could deliver on the west coast, I was surprised with a free show along with my morning shmear.

I was quietly eating my bagel along the counter facing out to the street, when all of a sudden a van blaring Hebrew music out from its external speakers stopped right in front of the shop. Big letters on the van told me that they were here to celebrate the coming of the Messiah. Out of this van popped out at least 6 men, whose clothing varied from traditional garb to full on clown suits. A couple dudes couldn't decide what to wear that morning and just wore it all at once.

The guys came bursting in through the door, dancing and singing "Hava Nagila" (yes, I have been to several bar and bat mitzvahs back in the middle school days), grabbing other customers and obviously rejoicing in the coming of the Messiah. But no fair, as the token Asian, I was left alienated and alone with my mediocre breakfast. And since they had already outcast me, I decided to play to the stereotype. I whipped out my iPhone and tried to snap a decent picture. But those clowns sure did have fast feet, hence the blurry picture. Wonder what festivities will take place when the Messiah actually arrives?! I better be invited.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The world is coming to an end...

When parents no longer reward their sweet little tots with these pink and white frosted animal cookies with the tiniest sprinkles in the world, the world must be crumbling away.

When kindergarteners no longer open up their brown lunch bags or Superman lunch boxes to discover a baggie full of these sugary delights, America is failing her people.

Mother's Cookies has filed for bankruptcy, and a large animal shaped part of my heart has died with it.

A sad, sad, sad day for the inner child in all of us.

picture from flickr

Friday, October 10, 2008

everything is delicious with bacon and blue cheese

Bobby Flay lost another Throwdown, what a surprise... That guy never seems to win, even though he has a completely unfair advantage. He knows 1) there will be a throwdown 2) what the other person's specialty is and the recipe and 3) he can use better ingredients since he probably has enough money to get California out of debt.

This moules dish is from one of the guy's that kicked Bobby's ass in Throwdown... Chef Teddy at Granville Moore's in Washington D.C. I was recently in D.C. and am quite depressed that I did not manage to find this place. However I did find the Santa Monica Seafood Market and its mussels and now me and B are addicted to these things. It took us a while to find the recipe online, and I can't find it right now, but I have the recipe pretty much memorized... it's easy b/c you need 2/3 cup of everything but the mussels, blue cheese and lemons.

2lbs of mussels keeps me and the 6'3" boyfriend extremely content and perfectly stuffed by the time the last mussel is consumed. Make sure crisp skinny fries are at your side and some thick slices of bread for dipping in the broth. The broth is amazing by the way, we also did the same kind of broth with shrimp. Delicious, but the mussels still are the champions.

2 lbs mussels
2/3 cup applewood smoked bacon
2/3 cup shallots, sliced thinly
2/3 cup white wine (I think we used Chardonnay)
2/3 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup blue cheese
juice of 2 lemons

Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 3 tablespoons canola oil in a pan. The recipe gave this weird ratio, so we are going with it... Dice the bacon and render the lovely pieces of pig and fat until kind of brown (we like it a little crispier). Throw in the shallots and mussels and mix it all around. Add the white wine and lemon juice.

Keep tossing all the ingredients together. When the mussels start to open, drop in 1/2 of the blue cheese. Some mussels are more eager to open than others, so put the stubborn ones deeper in the broth. When all the mussels are opened, add the spinach. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Dump everything in a really large bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the blue cheese.

Forget forks! Use an empty mussel shell to pry the meat from the other shells.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

tomato tomahto, blue cheese bleu cheese?

B and I went to the Hollywood farmer's market... it seems that Los Angeles can't decide what season it's in right now since there seemed to be an abundance of squishy tomatoes yet a whole plethora of peaches as well. We were on a mission for figs, but alas only a few straggling boxes of mushy figs were to be found. We did manage to find two heirloom tomatoes on the firmer side, a whole bag of green beans for 90 cents (!) which B tossed with the garlic and almond and butter concoction below, and some sweet corn.

B made those tomatoes up there....
Just mix together shredded parmesan, 2 garlic cloves per tomato, blue (bleu?) cheese (more than you think is necessary), extra virgin olive oil, and cracked black pepper. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and core them too. Drizzle some olive oil over the tomatoes and sprinkle with sea salt. Generously stuff the cheese and garlic mix into the tomatoes. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and put on the top rack of the oven (I think we put in on low broil) until the tomato skins burst a little bit and the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
Ridiculously easy to make and ridiculously easy to devour.

for a more sensual experience...

my pictures are usually taken around 10pm to 1am, so needless to say lighting is not at its optimal state and smears my images with an ugly yellow tint. it does help if you click on the picture to see its full-size. you can pretty much smell the garlic and butter in the picture below, you might even feel a hot pop of butter hit your face.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Heaven better smell like this

Sightly tamed garlic and almond slivers getting cozy in a bath of bubbly butter.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cupcakes have identities, just like us.

The perfectionist.
Annoyingly adorable.


Pleasingly plump.

This one has its own entourage. Don't mess.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Update on Thai Angel Wings Recipe

I tried that Marnee's Thai angel wings recipe.

It is damn near perfect. I would add a lot more garlic, and be patient when reducing the sauce! The sauce should be mostly garlic chunks, so let that sticky sauce reduce itself. I also fried the chicken instead of baking it because I'm a fat kid like that. And I recommend frying that chicken silly so that it's really crispy. Oh and I put in 1/3 cup of jalapeno chiles and it made me sweat a little, just as a caveat.

Peachy Keen

(Click image for full-size)

I have an unhealthy obsession with the Food Network. Well actually it's a love-hate relationship.

I strongly dislike:
Rachael "All-I-Can-Say-About-Any-Kind-of-Food-is-YUMMO" Ray
Emeril "BAM-is-the-Only-Technique-I've-Mastered" Lagassi
Sandra "I-Have-Big-Boobs" Lee

Personal favorites include Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown. And, I'll admit it, Duff and his cakes.
Although I do love watching Alton Brown's uber-educational shows, I usually think he is a much more intelligent version of Martha Stewart. Meaning his techniques are spot on, but a bit OCD and require the precision of a rocket scientist. But I scored some ramekins and decided to make his peach upside down cake in honor of the ending of summer.

I accidentally bought white peaches instead of the regular ones, and I abandoned the crystallized ginger he throws in the mix, but it's still juicy and sweet and each ramekin is a perfect single serving. And is golden brown sugar the same as light brown sugar? I'm pretty sure they're not, but I used the golden brown kind and I doubt there was a difference. Oh, and I forgot to get buttermilk, so I put a teaspoon of cream of tartar in 2% milk, let it sit for 10 minutes, and again, no difference in the baked outcome. Seeeeeee... baking doesn't have to be that precise...

Makes 4 ramekins

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 peaches, peeled
2.5 ounces all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
vanilla bean ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Divide 2 tablespoons of the butter and the brown sugar between 4 ramekins (the 6-ounce kind).
Slice each peach into 12-14 pieces and divide them amongst the ramekins, on top of the sugar.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, buttermilk, vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of melted butter.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir 12 times! Then STOP! I know, it's lumpy, but it should be! Then pour mixture into ramekins.

Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes. Alton says to wait until the internal temperature is 190 degrees F, but who really does that??*

Remove from oven, and cool. Alton says just for 5 minutes, but in order for it to flip out in proper form, wait at least 20 minutes.

Run a knife about the edge of the ramekin to loosen the gooey stuff from the walls. Hold the ramekin in on hand, put a plate upside down on top of the ramekin. Holding the ramekin and plate together, flip it over so now the ramekin is upside down. Tap the ramekin and giggle slightly so that cake releases itself from the ramekin. Reheat in the microwave if not hot enough for you.

Generously plop vanilla bean ice cream on top. Ben & Jerry's makes Willie Nelson's Country Peach Cobbler ice cream if you're feeling extremely peachy.


*OK, I really did.

Monday, September 22, 2008

DIY: Danger Dogs

LAPD is cracking down on those infamous Danger Dog carts roaming around Los Angeles. Personally, those little ladies exploiting the drunken and drugged youth with their bacon-wrapped hot dogs are just as important a landmark as the Hollywood sign. Having crispy, slightly burnt bacon enveloping a juicy grade B hot dog readily available to all who emerge from the innards of L.A. nightlife to the grungy, crackhead infested streets is one of the few privileges I have found down here. And yes, I do find a 3500-calorie snack a great privilege that I do not wish to be stripped of by law enforcement.

Don't those esteemed men-in-blue have more to worry about than ridding Los Angeles of these deliciously evil meat-wrapped-in-other-meat things of edible holiness?

If I were a less passive person that did not silently type my grievances into my blog that surely no one reads, the San Francisco in me might have made the trek to downtown Hollywood, gathered those little ladies and their makeshift carts, and started the first ever Danger Dog Union. But alas, I work a day job in a cubicle.

How to make your own makeshift Danger Dog street cart:
1. Gather the following objects. Under no circumstances may you purchase any of them:
a shopping cart
a baking sheet or any other flat metal object
something that can sustain a moderately-controlled flame for several hours
a durable stick to rotate danger dogs
untwisted metal hangers or wire

2. You may purchase the following, although I'm sure you have a hook-up through a friend of a friend that could get you them for free:
hotdogs, the cheapest possible
bacon, sliced of course
hot dog buns
optional: for the more advanced street cart, onions and condiments

3. Place the controlled flame in the basket of the shopping cart.

4. Lay the baking sheet on top of the shopping cart, over the flame.

5. Using the metal hanger or wire, securely attach the baking sheet to the cart. Remember, stability is of crucial importance as this cart must be as mobile as possible.

6. Wrap hot dogs in bacon and place on baking sheet. Rotate danger dogs as necessary to maintain a consistent browning of bacon and dog.

7. Find yourself the L.A. venue of choice, preferably at the intersection of several venues' exit doors.

8. Congratulations! You have officially started to aid the growing obesity problem in the United States.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

On the hunt

The Bay Area is far more superior to this disconnected, traffic-laden, sorry excuse of a city called Los Angeles. I'll take hippies over hipsters any day of the week.

And perhaps one of the things I most despise about L.A. is the lack of angel wings, despite there being a Thai restaurant on every other corner. Garlicky and sticky, the delicate balance of sweet and spicy, with the crunch of freshly fried basil, has been perfected by Marnee Thai of SF, and in second place at Coconut Bay in Burlingame.

I have scoured this wasteland for any hint of a decent angel wing, but no menu, no yelp review, no google search has pointed me in any sort of direction. I found a recipe, and I am praying that it is indeed the Marnee recipe and not a cruel joke on an innocent girl who needs her fix.

Photograph by B.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yes, I know.

The name of this blog is slightly revolting to some. But this advertisement near SFO's baggage claim number 3 is much more disturbing.

EDIT: the name of the blog was formerly Flesh on Fat.